About the Fargo Diocese

More about the Fargo Diocese

The roots of the Catholic Church of Fargo reach back to the early 1800s when missionary priests from Canada served the people of the Pembina area in the northeastern part of the diocese. In 1879, the Vicariate of Dakota was established.

The Dakota Territory was divided into North and South Dakota and in 1889, the Catholic Church, recognizing the new political boundaries, created the dioceses of Jamestown and Sioux Falls out of the Vicariate of Dakota. At the age of 37, Father John Shanley was named the first bishop of the Diocese of Jamestown.

In August of 1891, Bishop Shanley decided to move the Episcopal see city to Fargo. He made plans and began construction on a cathedral. A fire that devastated downtown Fargo in 1893 halted construction for six years. St. Mary's Cathedral was finally completed and dedicated on Sunday, May 30, 1899. (Beyond Red River by Father Terrence G. Kardong, O.S.B.) Today, the Diocese of Fargo has a Catholic population of over 85,000 people out of a total North Dakota population of over 377,ooo.

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